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Jerry Lewis co-stars accuse late star of sexual abuse | movies

Former co-stars of the late actor and comedian Jerry Lewis have accused him of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The women all met Lewis at the height of his Hollywood career. In an investigation by Vanity Fair and its accompanying short, they allege that Lewis – who died of natural causes in 2017 at the age of 91 – abused them.

The story and film are based in part on interviews conducted by Emmy winners Allen v Farrow, Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, who have researched Hollywood’s long history of abuse. They found that some of the most explosive allegations involved Lewis.

Among those interviewed are Hope Holiday, who starred opposite Lewis in The Ladies Man, Jill St John, who starred opposite Lewis in Who’s Minding the Store? played, Anna Maria Alberghetti, who worked with him on Cinderfella, Karen Sharpe, who played Lewis’ love interest in The Disorderly Orderly, Oscar-nominated author Renée Taylor and singer Lainie Kazan.

Sharpe, now 87, claimed Lewis physically assaulted her after a costume fitting in his office in 1964. “He grabbed me. He started caressing me. He opened his pants. Honestly, I was speechless,” she said.

“I raised my hand and said, ‘Wait a minute.’ I don’t know if that’s a requirement for your leading lady, but it’s something I don’t do.’ I could see that he was angry. I feel like that never really happened to him.”

Sharpe claimed that after she turned Lewis away, he refused to rehearse with her and forbade the entire production, save for the director and assistant director, to speak to her. “If anyone talks to you… we will be fined,” a crew member reportedly told her.

Holiday, 91, said she’s known Lewis since she was 13 but was in her early 30s when she allegedly invited her into her dressing room, locked her in and started “talking dirty” and masturbating.

“He said, ‘You have a great body, you have nice breasts, you have nice legs. That’s what I like to see,” Holiday said. “I didn’t know what to do, so I just sat there. I wanted away so badly. I wanted out and I couldn’t.”

She said the incident depressed her. “I didn’t want to go on dates. It was not good.”

Holiday said her friends urged her to report Lewis to the Screen Actors Guild, but she was too scared. “He was very big at Paramount. I was signed to him and Paramount, and I didn’t want to shake the boat. I figured I’d just shut up.”

Taylor, 88, said she was in her 20s when Lewis set her up to meet Paramount executives, who immediately asked her if she was “one of Jerry’s girls.” When she said no, she claims they started talking rudely about her anatomy and Lewis’s.

“They said, ‘Well how big is your pussy? Jerry has a salami and he’s going to use it on a girl,” Taylor said.

Lewis’ comedy and singing duet with Dean Martin propelled him to stardom alongside Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. He married singer Patti Palmer in 1944 and the couple had six children together. He later adopted another child with his second wife, SanDee Pitnick.

In 1959, at the age of 33, he signed with Paramount to a seven-year, $10 million contract, the largest contract of its kind between a studio and an artist at the time.

The Vanity Fair film, titled The Dark Side of a Hollywood Icon, was released on Wednesday.

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